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HOBB Weekly Update Message
Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A message from Janet Ahmad - Buying Judges, Colorado moving ahead as Washington State stalls, mortgage fraud and foreclosures climb

A message from Janet Ahmad
Buying Judges, Colorado moving ahead as Washington State stalls, mortgage fraud and foreclosures climb

The Colorado Senate is scheduled to consider the Homeowner Protection Act on Monday, which could put it on Gov. Bill Ritter's desk for signature later next week.  Meanwhile as Colorado moves along with consumer protection home builder lobbyists are in hot water after being accused of ethics violations.

Sad news in Washington State; the "Homebuyers' Bill of Rights" SB 5550 has stalled causing many lawmakers to blow off steam. The Seattle Post Editorial says: “The House speaker should get off the dime and let lawmakers vote on this bill; we think it would mean new consumer protection for home buyers.”

Be sure to read the heart warming story of one good hearted contractor who came to the aid of a family bilked by another contractor.

Then there is the self serving patron Bob Perry who spends millions to avoid responsibility… Bob ‘the Builder’ Perry is at it again, except now he is – not discretely but boldly – attempting to buy Supreme Court Justices. In case you haven’t kept up with Mr. Perry he is the homebuilder that has the Texas couple Bob and Jane Cull, locked in a 10-year legal battle over structural problems with their house.  He is also the man who spent $8 million in campaign contributions to influence the creation of a new (2003) state agency that regulates homebuyers. Keep you finger crossed; despite the Perry influence, legislation is still moving through the Texas capitol to reign in the unregulated homebuilding industry.  Stay tuned…

Of course the news would not be complete without mentioning the notorious KB Home continuing saga of bad builder behavior.  Texas lawmakers and San Antonio city council are still reeling over the revelations of the botched HUD $48M homeownership fiasco. See photos:
KB defective construction passed by the City of San Antonio

News Updates. Starting with One Good Hearted Builder”
Your Help is needed:  Help us to make meaningful changes by volunteering your time, talents and expertise.  Continue to respond to the authors of these weekly news articles.
1. Let reporters know how pleased and excited you are for writing articles on these most important issues.
2. Forward these articles to others and especially to your elected officials, along with your personal comments.
Take Action 101 to find contact information for elected officials.
3. We would like to hear from you so please take a few minutes to post your comments on the
H O B B   F o r u m .
Together we have and will continue to make a difference!  Help us to help you by keeping in touch. Your participation is vital.

Thank you,
Janet Ahmad, President
HomeOwners for Better Building

EXPOSED: $48M federal taxpayers money buys non-compliant, low-income HUD housing
KB Homes Gain is San Antonio Housing Authority HOPE VI Failure
Fraud and deceit plague the San Antonio Housing Authority’s homeownership, lease-to-own program. The failed HOPE VI program has been the subject of HUD & city investigations yet little has been corrected.  Families stuck with houses built without back doors or windows continue to appear before San Antonio city council asking for help with the KB defectively built homes that they say are making them sick.  See photos: KB defective construction passed by the City of San Antonio

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Builder Bob Perry's money and the Supreme Court
What the Hecht?
Texas Supreme Court justice should recuse himself when a litigant helped pay the jurist's legal bills

While the partisan makeup of the state's final arbiter of civil law has changed, litigants' attempts to purchase favor with the court's members hasn't. The latest example is that of Justice Nathan Hecht, who accepted $16,000 in contributions from a political action committee largely bankrolled by Houston builder Bob Perry. The HillCo PAC donated the money to help cover Hecht's $340,000 legal expenses shortly before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear Perry Homes' appeal of an $800,000 judgment. An arbitrator had awarded the damages to a couple who claimed their home was structurally deficient. Read more...

San Antonio Housing Authority looks at hiring law firm while families continue to wait
SAHA may launch Mirasol Homes investigation
It’s been a four year battle but the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) is finally looking at buying back some substandard homes on the city’s west side. For years residents of the Mirasol housing project have complained about their homes falling apart.  James Munoz reporting – On Monday the housing authority will talk about hiring a law firm out of Houston to investigate just what went wrong with this $50M project… Estefana Battle – “Buy these homes back…what are we supposed to do sit back and take a beating?”  Janet Ahmad – “There is no excuse why this was not taken care of 3 or 4 years ago when it came to light and was in the news…” KENS 5 Reports

San Antonio City Councilman Art Hall Challenges Residents to Sue the City
Precious residents urged to seek lawyer
Last Thursday (4/5/07) residents  appeared before San Antonio city council again to ask council members for help with defective homes built by KB Home.  Councilman Art Hall, who is also running for mayor told residents that he was tired of them coming to city council and that they had a civil matter and should get an attorney to sue KB.  After the meeting Councilman Hall continued the challenge by saying “so sue us…so sue us – the city gets sued everyday. That’s why we have money set aside just for lawsuit, and we lose all the time. ”  KENS 5 Reports: They went to City Council hoping for support but got only suggestions. Tonight it seem those fighting SAHA and KB Home for better housing still have a long battle ahead of them.  Sara Olivares, “I don’t want taxpayer money.  I want KB’s money. I want KB to give me back my money, my health, my pride, my dignity…" See KENS 5 Report: Precious residents urged to seek lawyer

San Antonio Housing Authority to file suit
Mirasol dispute may spell lawsuit
Housing authority commissioners have called a special meeting Monday to consider launching an investigation and pursuing "potential claims" against the parties involved in developing the ill-fated Mirasol Homes public housing project. The meeting notice was posted Thursday just hours after the San Antonio Housing Authority approved a plan to buy back homes at Villas de Fortuna, the West Side subdivision that was part of the $48 million federally funded Mirasol project. Read more...

Consumer Protection: Building to last
Senate Bill 5550, known as the Homeowners Bill of Rights, would protect buyers of new homes against such things as defects in materials and workmanship (for two years), defects occurring because of water leaks (five years) and structural defects (for 10 years)...Chopp has been accused of giving in to the pressure from the Building Industry Association of Washington, and his position on SB5550 has prompted seriously outcry from the House... The House speaker should get off the dime and let lawmakers vote on this bill; we think it would mean new consumer protection for home buyers. Read more...

Developers in Florida are out of control
Critics: Wetlands proposal harmful
Bill would strip local officials of oversight unless they foot funds. Environmentalists and local government officials say a bill moving through the state Legislature could severely restrict efforts to preserve a key feature of their natural resources — wetlands. "Developers in Florida are out of control," she said. "They are lashing out at the one thing that is trying to protect the rest of us — local governments." Read more...

Colorado Homeowner Protection Act
Senate to consider homeowner bill; changes unlikely
The Colorado Senate on Monday is scheduled to consider the Homeowner Protection Act, which could put it on Gov. Bill Ritter's desk for signature later next week...Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, who is sponsoring House Bill 1338, said late Tuesday afternoon that she has had a "number of discussions about the possibility of amending it" but noted that time was running out...HB 1338 prevents builders from inserting waivers into warranty contracts that remove buyers' rights to sue or arbitrate over shoddy construction issues, a provision in the four-year-old HB 1161, which builders supported. Read more...

Colorado Builder lobbyists in trouble
Homebuilder Lobbyists Accused Of Ethics Violations
Two lawmakers filed ethics complaints against lobbyists for homebuilders on Tuesday, accusing them of orchestrating phone calls to constituents that falsely accuse them supporting a bill that would increase taxes on homes. Borodkin and Todd's complaint names William Mutch, who represents the business lobby Colorado Concern, and Steve Durham, who lobbies for the Colorado Home Builders Association. Read more...

Colorado: home buyers are battling homebuilders
Home buyers vs. builders in Legislature
Some home buyers are battling homebuilders over a proposed law about construction defects. House Bill 1338, sponsored by Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, is designed to give homeowners more rights to get a defective home fixed. But home builders say it will dramatically increase liability insurance premiums as well as their liability when a construction defect is discovered and a homeowner sues. Read more...

Colorado: Bill to protect the right of home buyers to sue
Senate committee backs home buyers' bill
A Senate committee on Tuesday backed a bill to protect the right of home buyers to sue if developers don't fix construction defects. The measure (House Bill 1338) outlaws contracts that waive the rights of home buyers to sue under a 2003 law that was backed by home builders. That law limits how much money buyers can win in court and encourages builders and owners to go to arbitration first. Read more...

Couple convicted of racketeering and fraudulent shoddy construction work
Sentencing delayed in conviction of contractors
Pensacola News Journal - After nearly six hours of testimony Thursday from several victims and the owners of a company convicted of fraudulent shoddy construction work, Circuit Court Judge Michael Allen delayed sentencing until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Total Response Systems owners William and Anita Morrison of Missouri were convicted in October. They face a maximum of 17 and 30 years, respectively, on charges of racketeering, tampering with evidence and contracting without a license. The charges against them occurred over a nine-month period -- between November 2004 and August 2005 -- as thousands of area residents were reeling from severe damage to their homes caused by Hurricane Ivan.

Developer sued by 52 homeowners
Tuscan Hills plan ends in foreclosure
Mayer-Luce Development had announced it would build an 18-hole golf course hotel and high-end homes, a first for Desert Hot Springs, dubbing it Tuscan Hills in mid-2005. Now the company no longer owns the project and is being sued by 52 homeowners at its other Desert Hot Springs development, Hacienda Heights, who complain of shoddy construction work. Read more...

Ohio foreclosures, little oversight
Predatory lending, little oversight create bad situation for homeowners, and help won't be coming soon
"We are overwhelmed, and unfortunately when people call we're telling them that we just don't have the staff to handle them," said Jim McCarthy, MVFH president and CEO. To compound the problem, scam artists looking to make a quick buck are using foreclosure and other public records to prey on panicked consumers, said Beth Deutscher, executive director of the Home Ownership Center of Greater Dayton. Read more...

One Good Hearted Builder
Contractors come to the aid of bilked homeowners
Richard Prowse was getting ready for work one day several weeks ago when he saw a heartbreaking story in the newspaper. In the story, a local family said it lost more than $17,000 to a contractor who had disappeared after they hired him to make their house more accessible for their wheelchair-bound son. They said their home was uninhabitable because a contractor had gutted it before absconding with their money.Prowse, himself a contractor, was upset and began working the phones and printing fliers to assemble volunteers. Companies donated wallboard, kitchen cabinets, baseboards and other supplies. Contractors started showing up at Hatch and Bailey, the Stamford lumber yard where Prowse is a sales representative, to help. Read more...

Wisconsin: $3 million settlement upheld in condo case
Mukilteo condo owners now await a ruling on whether a contractor's insurer must pay
The court cases relate to the 96-unit Villas at Harbour Pointe condo complex on Villa Monte Drive. Residents at the complex sued after water poured in through siding, windows and sliding glass doors and damaged units, according to court files. Repair work continues to this day.The rulings mean residents still need to fight the insurance company for payment for repair work, said attorney Dan Zimberoff, who represents the condo owners association."They just want their homes repaired and lives to go on," he said. "They've been living through the litigation nightmare for five years now." Read more...

Builder Bobs' Builder's PAC aided judge
Justice says help needed for his legal bills even as firm's appeal neared
Justice Hecht solicited donors in February to pay the cost of defending himself against charges of violating judicial ethics. The state's judicial-conduct panel admonished Justice Hecht last year for using his office to promote the failed nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. The sanction was subsequently overturned, but Justice Hecht owed $340,000 to his lawyers. Hillco PAC, an Austin-based committee whose primary funder is Mr. Perry, donated $16,000 to the justice. And the contribution came days before the Texas Supreme Court heard an appeal by Perry Homes seeking to overturn a string of unfavorable rulings. Read more...

TEXAS WATCH MEDIA RELEASE - Supreme Court and Perry Homes Money
Hecht Should Recuse Himself from Perry Homes Case and Reveal the Full List of Donors to His Legal Defense The Dallas Morning News reported this morning that Hillco PAC, which has received more than $1 million from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, gave Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht $16,000 in the days after Hecht solicited contributions to cover his legal expenses....“Justice Hecht should come clean once and for all by revealing the names of everyone who is picking up the tab for his legal bills,” said Winslow.  “At the very least, this calls Justice Hecht’s impartiality into question.  He should recuse himself from any case involving individuals who have contributed to his personal legal defense.” Read more...

Mississippi inspector acting as homebuilder in the news again
Suspended, revoked -- and in charge
The man in charge of inspecting the work of homebuilders here is a homebuilder himself whose license was revoked by the state in January...McCracken has been featured in an on-going 3 On Your Side investigation of missed code violations at a home in the Ravenwood subdivision of Horn Lake.  After our own structural engineer uncovered problems at the home, McCracken admitted the city missed those problems in its inspections -- even as his boss, Horn Lake Planning Director Anita Rainey, issued a letter to the home's builder two days after our inspection, saying, "...this office has no knowledge of any code violations regarding (6284 Manchester)." Read more...

Boston Globe - Nightmare for homeowners
Nightmare for homeowners
Today, within a 14-block area, there are 11 property owners who can no longer afford their monthly mortgage payments, and the banks that lent them the money are reclaiming the properties. "It's so sad," said Linda Soucy, acting director of the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood Inc., a nonprofit that works to improve the economic, educational, and social levels of residents in the city's poorest neighborhood. "Some people were so eager to get into a home that they let other people bamboozle them." Read more...

Is there any Justice in Texas?
A Citizen’s Lament - Was justice denied in a Fannin County court?
“In June 2005, after helping construct a subfloor for Pat and Bob Egert’s new house in Ben Franklin, Bobby Fines, owner of Cedar Log Homes in Ivanhoe, owed me $530 for my work,” Starkey said. “I called his residence and Vicky Leggett, his partner, answered.  I said, ‘I’d like to have my money.’”...And Starkey was $1500 poorer because of a lawyer he shouldn’t have needed and was still out the $530 allegedly owed him by Fines. See related article: Homeowner convicted for reporting Builder to TRCC & the Better Business Bureau

Washington State: Blowing off steam over Homebuyer Bill of Rights
Some hope Williams’ threat to quit a ‘moment of frustration’
Some House Democrats said Friday that they hope Olympia Rep. Brendan Williams was just blowing off steam when he threatened to quit this week over the apparent killing of legislation to give new-home buyers a warranty against construction defects. “I can’t imagine such an extreme reaction to a bill not coming up,” House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said of Williams’ reaction to statements by House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, that the consumer-protection measure needed more work this summer...“There is no point in continuing in this (job) if right-wing thugs like the Building Industry Association are allowed to run roughshod over the process,” Williams told the paper, Read more...

Washington State: Homeowner Bill of Rights bill tabled as things get heated
Democratic State Senator Calls Democratic House Speaker Chopp a “Dictator.”
Weinstein believed he had his ducks in row to also pass the bill in the House. Last summer, he says, he met with powerhouse House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) at Chopp’s de facto office, the Tully’s on 45th in Wallingford. Chopp, Weinstein recalls, said the idea sounded good... However, earlier this week, after the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill onto the Rules Committee, Speaker Chopp tabled the bill... Anybody can get sued. Homebuilders are the only people in this state that can’t get sued. Aren’t they willing to stand by their work?”..This is democracy at its worst. Here is one guy that overruled 30 Democratic Senators and the Democratic House Judiciary Committee. What’s the point of working hard on a bill? There’s no point in doing the fact finding, holding eight hours of hearings, of doing the right thing, if a dictator can just pull the rug out from under you. I feel helpless. Read more...

Washington State - Builder overplayed their hand badly
Reuteman: Greed vs. greed battle throws us all for a loss
Opponents of the controversial Homeowner Protection Act now have overplayed their hand so badly that their fears of frivolous lawsuits and higher housing costs will likely be tested in the marketplace. Trial lawyers and homebuilders have been fighting in the state legislature for years about the best way to resolve legal disputes over residential construction defects. The lawyers say homeowners don't have a strong enough "lemon law." Homebuilders complain that fee-happy barristers would rather take them to court than get a defect corrected. If there's anything worse than a sore loser, it's a sore winner, and this long-running catfight has both. Read more...

Builder Online: Raising questions about Beazer's mortgage lending practices
BUILDER Online News Service
Beazer Homes USA confirmed on Wednesday that it had received a request from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte, N.C., for documents "generally related to its mortgage business," Beazer Mortgage. That subsidiary of the Atlanta-based builder was the subject of a scathing four-part series of articles in the Charlotte Observer last week, which raised questions about Beazer's mortgage lending practices in North Carolina several years ago. Read more...

California largest U.S. market for high-risk home loans
California Investigates Subprime Mortgage Industry (Update2)
Attorney General Jerry Brown opens an investigation of the subprime mortgage industry. Half of the 20 biggest U.S. subprime lenders, including No. 2 New Century Financial Corp., which is trying to avoid bankruptcy, are located in California. Read more...

Mortgage scheme steals dream, home, credit
While the U.S. Senate looks for someone to blame for a national mortgage meltdown, Brenda Brown sits in her hotel room wondering if she'll ever be able to buy another home. Brown, branch manager at Security Finance in Conway, says she is the victim of a mortgage scheme in which manufactured home dealer Glenn Vaught promised he could get her a new home despite her past credit problems...Chris Orlando, a spokesman for Argent Mortgage, said the lender "is investigating what appears to be a concerted effort to deceive the company" and that Argent will help customers who have been victims of fraud. Argent is the company that loaned the money for Brown's home, but the lender has since sold the loan to another finance company. Read more...

Two New Homeowners Websites
Centex & John Wieland Homeowner Websites
Beware The Centex Illusion!  Little did we know that promises made would become promises broken once the money stopped flowing into Centex's coffers. Centex is an expert at promising much, getting public monies to help fund their projects and then abandoning it all once the profits slow or stop.
John Wieland Homes: Georgia Mold Home
 I would like to share some valuable information about our home which was built by JOHN WIELAND Homes. Most people are exited to show off their wonderful homes. In this case this is not true! After the last nail was hit, the check cleared, here is the harsh reality.... Our home is ruined with water damage and mold throughout the whole house. Homeowner Website Links

American Homes sued
Home builder named in thee more lawsuits
A home building company in Berkeley County is the defendant in three suits filed last month, making a total of more than 30 cases filed against the business in the last six months. Between September 2006 and February 2007, American Homes and owner John E. Petry have been sued for millions of dollars in more than 30 lawsuits. Read more...

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